Lower Shotover residents call out lack of consultation on ‘Spence Park’ plan

A group of Queenstown residents are shocked commissioners also approved a large housing development on rural land — without public consultation — when giving council’s Ladies Mile masterplan the big tick last month.

On the other hand, the local housing trust’s delighted the landowner’s offering it 5% of the sections it’ll create specifically for affordable housing.

The independent commissioners rezoned about 10.9 hectares of former Wakatipu Basin Lifestyle Precinct land, partly bordered by Lower Shotover and Spence roads, in their draft recommendation to council, which now only has to be rubber-stamped by Environment Minister Penny Simmonds.

Till now, the Anna Hutchinson Family Trust land was only zoned for 12 homes.

Now, 4.6ha’s been zoned for ‘medium-density residential’ — allowing up to 40 homes per hectare, up to 13 metres high — and 6.3ha for ‘low-density residential’, allowing minimum-300 square metre sections.

All-up, it’s thought up to 400 housing units could be built.

Mitzi Cole-Bailey, speaking on behalf of five Spence Rd neighbours, says their main beef’s the lack of proper consultation over this extra Ladies Mile land, which doesn’t in fact face the Ladies Mile highway and is on the other side of Lower Shotover Rd.

They’re specially concerned at the lack of traffic-load testing, ‘‘which is what most people had concerns about during the Ladies Mile process’’.

‘‘This new area is too far from the proposed commercial centre in Ladies Mile to stop people using their cars.’’

Proposal could set ‘dangerous precedent’

There’d also be a lot more traffic exiting Lower Shotover Rd onto the state highway roundabout, she says.

Cole-Bailey notes the commissioners didn’t point out the land owner only put in their submission on the last day, ‘‘meaning only people who were affected more than [minorly] could submit against them’’.

She says the public’s generally not aware what’s called Spence Park will extend along Lower Shotover Rd, ‘‘creating urban creep and setting a dangerous precedent for future development’’.

She and her neighbours had been comforted council had opposed extending the Ladies Mile zone.

Council argued the trust land would ‘‘significantly change’’ the Ladies Mile development, increasing the land area by about a sixth.

Of most concern, a proper evaluation hadn’t been done — for example, of its effects on the nearby Shotover River and the river’s ‘outstanding natural feature’.

There were alternatives like a private plan change, council noted.

Meanwhile, the family trust’s planner, Werner Murray, says they can’t confirm how much housing they’d develop as they needed to allow for ‘‘recommended provisions’’ like not building on escarpments and setbacks.

He also notes 2.2ha closest to the neighbours ‘‘was removed from the rezoning request, following agreement with their planner this would adequately address the neighbours’ concerns’’.

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‘Developer wanted to help with affordable housing’

Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust’s chief executive commends the Spence Park developers for offering to give the trust 5% of the sections they create.

‘‘That’s the general philosophy of the inclusionary housing plan change … that’s what they offered up,’’ says Julie Scott, pictured, whose trust’s signed a heads of agreement with the Anna Hutchinson Family Trust.

‘‘They willingly came to us and said, ‘look, we’ve got this piece of land’.

“My understanding is they can subdivide it into 12 sections as of right, and they’d be big lifestyle blocks … but they want to do something for the community, and so they see it as valuable being included in the Ladies Mile masterplan.

‘‘When you look at it and when you stand on the site, it really makes sense this would be included in the Ladies Mile grand scheme of things, because it connects between the Lower Shotover and the broader Ladies Mile area, so it provides that transport link, etc, for non-vehicle transport.’’

Scott says they’ve also discussed opportunities beyond just the inclusionary housing contribution which could involve both parties doing a comprehensive, higher-density development together.

‘‘We understand it can be contentious when new land development is proposed, but ultimately we’ve got a serious housing issue in the

Meanwhile, the family trust submission says its vision is “to be able to provide housing that is not only affordable by design but also via rental and ownership pathways”.

“It is important for the submitters that people can live and work in Queenstown rather than having to leave town due to housing stress.”

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